Brendan Rodgers has decided to depend on his veterans to lead Liverpool back to its desired level. The Liverpool manager’s strategy just might pay off.
Liverpool defeated Leicester City 3-1 in a Premier League game at King Power Stadium on Tuesday. The Reds fell behind midway through the first half but responded quickly before sealing the comeback win with two goals in the second period.
Liverpool now has won consecutive games for the first time since mid-October. Saturday’s win over Stoke City birthed talk of a revival of the Reds’ fortunes. Tuesday’s triumph at Leicester City gave those discussions serious momentum.
Adam Lallana, Steven Gerrard and Jordan Henderson — all midfield players — scored for Liverpool after goalkeeper Simon Mignolet’s early own goal put the Foxes ahead. Leicester City played the final half hour with 10 men, following defender Wes Morgan’s dismissal.
Yet the game was much closer and more competitive than Liverpool’s eventual advantage in manpower and goals suggests. Leicester City played slightly better than Liverpool in the first half and continually threatened to earn a result until Henderson sealed the win with his 83rd-minute goal.
Mignolet has struggled this season, but his form sunk to new depths Tuesday. The Liverpool goalkeeper nearly gifted Esteban Cambiasso an opening goal in the 20th minute. Mignolet unwittingly and unluckily did the honors for Leonardo Ulloa less than 60 seconds later.
Mignolet’s unsure handling and lack of command of his penalty area present an increasingly urgent problem for Rodgers and goalkeeping coach John Achterberg, as Liverpool’s opponents only will grow tougher (and the stakes higher) as the calender moves toward 2015.
Goalkeeping might be Liverpool’s “must-fix” issue of the moment, but other prior deficiencies are showing signs of easing away. Liverpool was ruthless against Leicester City, scoring all three goals after the Foxes made defensive miscues.
Lallana fired home a knock-down from striker Rickie Lambert, who wouldn’t have been able to set up his teammate if defender Wes Morgan headed away the pass Lucas floated into his penalty area. Morgan also was complicit in Gerrard’s goal, mis-touching Raheem Sterling’s cross into the Liverpool captain’s path before he hammered it home. Later, Sterling pounced after goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel bobbled the ball in the goal-mouth and assisted Henderson’s goal with an ingenious back-heeled pass.
Liverpool still is making defensive mistakes and misplacing passes, but they’re diminishing in number. If Liverpool continues to punish opponents’ errors, results will improve. Liverpool didn’t create many clear scoring chances, and it still isn’t playing a high-tempo, swashbuckling style of attack. But the Reds have demonstrated a strong mentality in their last two games, which has been key to their latest wins.
Having been restored to the starting lineup, Gerrard led the way against Leicester City. Rodgers praised his overall performance as an attacking midfielder, and his game-winning goal was a moment to savor. Perhaps it’s fitting that Lallana, one of Liverpool’s marquee summer signings, sparked the comeback with a bold finish, and Henderson, Liverpool’s vice-captain, put the proverbial “dagger” into the Foxes. Lallana and Henderson merely are following the leader, as the Reds work themselves out of the woods.
Photo via LiverpoolFC.com